I like to relax on my bed of nails, that’s one thing that almost never fails – 29th July 2020

Nothing stays the same, though we always try and force it. Is this the start of the pandemic era as some people are predicting? What is the ‘new normal’ and is it really any different to before?

I feel very lucky. After leaving the UK in 1994 my life, on reflection, has been a lucky and happy rollercoaster ride. Even the bottoms of the ride felt survivable, perhaps because at least there wasn’t a cold grey rain spitting in my face. Perhaps there were occasions where it didn’t feel survivable at that moment, but luckily I did, and so I have the possibility to reflect.

My journey is my own and my pronouncements can only be based on that experience, my judgements for myself, so take them with a pinch of salt. I did bad things, good things, stupid things, smart things. I see others doing the same. Who am I to judge?

I have definitelty changed over the last 6 months and I’m not sure why. Or I should say, I’m not sure specifically why. I have implemented lots of minor habit changes and behaviour modifications and perhaps it is an accumulation of minor positive changes that have made the difference. So I can’t put it down to meditating, exercising or journalling specifically.

I decided to get up 45 minutes earlier than I need to in order to get to work. In that time I follow a flexible routine. I keep it flexible because I shouldn’t punish myself for not following it consistently.

First I use my exercise bands to help open up my shoulders and stretch my calves. Probably only a couple of minutes total. Next I spend 5 to 10 minutes doing tests on my language apps (Drops and Mondly) – the aim is to break my current daily streak, learn some new words, possibly remember those words and reinforce this habit. The idea behind this is to create a sense of achievement as soon as possible in the morning and this sets you up for the rest of the day.

Next I lay on the floor and stretch out my back, neck and hamstrings. A warm up stretch more than anything, no more than a couple of minutes again. Just brushing off the tightness left over from sleep.

Then I use an app called Home Workout and all I do is the 5 minute morning warm up exercise, 10 exercises to get your body moving and your heartrate raised just slightly. I may move onto harder exercise routines later but I’m not in any hurry. I follow this with 30 squats and 20 tip-toe stretches (I have real problems with my feet).

If there is time, I write some ‘morning pages’ – whatever thoughts are piling through my head, though I’ve found that usually I don’t write much because I am sitting ‘trying’ to think of things to write. I often try to recall my dreams at this point. Whatever, it’s not a journal, it’s barely legible, it’s spat out quickly and forgotten – not really meant to be read again in the future. This habit is 2-5 minutes max.

Finally I’ll meditate (this is when my brain suddently starts coming up with the random thoughts!). I use the Smiling Mind app which has plenty of free meditations and I don’t know if I often get into a real meditative state but I want to do it just for practice. Doing it over and over again puts smaller chucks of information into my brain that I can utilise during the day, when not meditating as such. In this way it is a success. Perhaps it has taught me to just pause sometimes before opening my mouth. Taking a deep breath before heading into a difficult class.

I usually meditate between 5 and 10 minutes and mostly they are guided meditations. Once there gets to be longer periods of silence I still struggle with keeping focus on breath or letting go of thoughts, but that’s the reason to practice, right? I also have been laying on a spiky massage mat whilst doing this and that has been great. Much like a bed of nails. It makes me wonder why I like it? Do I like discomfort, do I find comfort in pain? Do I feel some sense of achievement to be able to survive it? I don’t know if there is any scientific study around physiological benefits of this type of thing but I just know that I like it!

Finally, a shower and breakfast and it’s off to work. Following this routine 5 days a week seems to be having a positive effect on my happiness and calm. I wouldn’t put it down to any one of the habits specifically or even them all together. Sometimes it can just be the action, the doing, that provides the benefit. For years I’ve implored friends to just ‘Do Something’ usually for a larger cause. Now I’m starting to understand that whilst I was doing something for a larger cause it also had the side effect of benefitting myself.

I was going to write about how the Covid-19 virus has effected my life teaching at school and what the ‘new normal’ of that looks like. Fortunately for me it has meant lots of free time, drinking coffee in the morning, sitting by the river. This situation won’t last forever. I won’t last forever. I enjoy it whilst I can.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Memorial for Tim Smith – 25th July 2020

Crave fun, brave sun, he keeps the world as his disguise
Slave hung, brave sun, the leader of the starry skies
From the tops of the trees
To the bowels of the Earth
Swings from pillar to post
‘Cos he’s here
And now
And now
He’s here

24 Cardiacs tracks randomly selected by iTunes, in memory of the genius of Dr Tim Smith, The Leader of the Starry Skies.

….never mind the war take me home again
For the last time

Too much is not enough – 23rd July 2020

Oh No! Bruno! – brainbox. Dream? I’m not sure but I am tired this morning – did not want to wake up. Exercised (five minutes) feel good. Mozzie heaven in my room in the morning.

Read back into my past – what was I thinking? Some days good, some days bad. Tim Smith passed away – only 59. Seven years older than me. I want to live longer. Especially now I am happy.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my glasses. I feel really disoriented without them. I love being able to see properly.

I glanced back on my life – 22nd July 2020

Last night as I was going to sleep I remembered more of the dream that I had yesterday night. We – not sure who – were in some kind of outdoor festival/playground and I was scared to go headfirst down a cardboard tube in the ground. I don’t recall last night’s dream at all. Quick one today – want to meditate.

23rd Sep 2022 – Perhaps I had recently been remembering the time when I was six or seven and wouldn’t get on an escalator with my mum at a London Tube station. Escalators were truly scary for a little boy who had no idea what it was or how it worked and despite mum’s assurances that it was fine, I stood at the top crying my eyes out as she disappeared downwards. A very nice man walked me down the stairs to reunite with her a minute later. Such trauma!

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the foot inserts I can wear to try and make my feet feel better.

Pleasure’s real or is it fantasy? – 21st July 2020

Dark and rainy but I’m happy. Five-minute exercise with a few squats and foot exercises – can I fix my feet? Dream – I know I didn’t want to wake up because I wanted to know what happened but now I don’t remember what it was about. Earlier I dreamt about giving Matthew Sherlock a blow job – he had a skinny dick. What’s the meaning? I’ve been thinking recently about how over time everyone will be more open to each other about any sexuality so that we will all experiment with everything. A few generations away. Have a good day Shaun – happy.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful that is easy for me to listen to podcasts in the car and I’m enjoying listening to this one about all the SST releases. Very interesting.

The Chiang Rai Alternative Hour #48 – 18th July 2020

Music from Lindsay Cooper, Unrest, Work and Play, Boss Hog, Sonic Youth, Code of Honor, Gas Rag, The Cichlids, False Prophets, Buff Medways, Fun Things, Fire Engines, XTC, Electric Prunes, Blues Inc, Thug, Arcwelder, Void, Makimakkuk, OMFO, Orthrelm and Park Ji Yoon.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my patience and care for Amy and for being able to turn an annoying situation into an ok one. I left her with Bee and George in the nightclub and tried to sleep in the car which was difficult but eventually, I ended up listening to music on my iPod. Listening to the Van Pelt and US Maple made me happy. Instead of thinking I had to suffer being uncomfortable until Amy was ready to leave I told myself that I get a chance to listen to great music.